Institutions still matter
I try not to stray too much in US politics on this blog, only because that information is so easily obtained elsewhere. With that being said, party and electoral systems are well within the scope here so please read Hans Noel and Seth Masket’s new article in the Los Angeles Times. The arguments shouldn’t be novel to readers of this blog but apparently it’s possible to be very successful while making the opposite points, so it’ s good to get this out there.
I think the key parts here aren’t the explanation for why we only have two major parties, but the defense against those who see parties as the problem.
All of this seems unfair. Why should these two parties have such an advantage? That’s the wrong way to look at it. The Democrats and the Republicans are not our overlords. They are us. They are the natural creations of politically concerned citizens who want to make a difference. And because in a democracy, the more people you have, the more chance you have of making a difference, parties organize together to have strength in numbers.
That is democracy: people joining together, compromising among themselves to arrive at policies, and trying to get those policies enacted.
If you’re not content with the way this country is being governed, one of the best ways to change it is to get involved with one of the existing parties and work to nominate and elect candidates at all levels of government who will fight for the things you care about. Odds are, one of the parties will want much of what you want. Pining for an independent, third-party dictator is not only a waste of your time, but if you somehow got what you wanted, you’d quickly find it wasn’t what you wanted at all.
Pretty much my thoughts. Organized people, elected by citizens, debating policy in deliberative bodies is a wonderful thing. People who like democracy should not get so upset when they see it in action.